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tv   Martin Bashir  MSNBC  March 17, 2011 3:00pm-4:00pm EDT

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radioactivity. >> i'm conceed because i d't know the situation about the radiation. >> desperate measures by land and by air fail to dampen the alarm. two governments divided on the gravity of the situation. are japanese authorities truly leveling with world? a crisis deepens with each passing moment. in this hour, president obama, who visited the japanese embassy in washington a short time ago to sign a book of condolence, is set to address the nation on the crisis that takes a new turn by the hour. today, the u.s. military began drafting plans to evacuate dependents from several bases in the region. the state department says it's now actively assisting other americans wishing to evacuate. among those heeding these warnings are many of our nbc colleagues. but what will they carry with them? at chicago's o'hare and
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dallas-ft. worth airports, radiation levels, thankfully low, have been picked up on passengers returning from japan. but the battle and the focus remain on the fukushima station and its crippled reactors. reactor number three, the scene of aerial water bombardment today, brave crew members dropped sea water in a desperate attempt to cool what is being describes as the single greatest threat. the fukushima six reactors, reactor three is the only one housing a mixed fuel known as mox, short for mixed oxide, a material made of reclaimed plutonium, the release of which would pose far more devastating effects than weave seen thus far. reactor four and its lack of water set off the biggest rift between nuclear authorities in the united states and japan. the u.s. believes the situation there is far worse than the japanese counterparts concede. the rift has led to a mini exodus of americans and others within japan.
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let's go now to nbc's chief environmental affairs correspondent, anne thompson. authorities in japan have just announced they may be close to restoring power to a stricken reactor, that's reactor number two. what would that mean? >> reporter: what it means, martin, they could get those pumps going again that send that water into the reactor core and into the spent fuel pool, and that would be the best of all possible solutions at this point. they really need to make sure that water circulates and covers both the core and then in the spent fuel pool those rods that they are done with, because if those rods are exposed they interact with the air, and then you could have melting, the rods start to melt, and then you have this release of radioactive material. today i was speaking with a man from the union of concerned scientists and he's amazed the japanese have been able to hold
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off disaster so far. but he said, if those fuel rods start to melt, it's just a matter of days before there's a significant release of radio activity. >> anne thompson in london, thank you very much, indeed. as we've heard, japan is turning to desperate measures to get the nuclear crisis under control. but experts say the latest efforts are about as effective as shooting a water pistol at a raging fire. itn's paul davis has more. >> reporter: if it looks like a desperate measure, that's because it is. military helicopters dropping thousands of liters of seawater on to the overheating nuclear reactors. but they have to fly so high, very little of the water hits its target. it was considered too dangerous to attempt this operation yesterday. but the japanese authorities appear to be running out of options. the latest satellite photograph shows steam rising from reactor three, which is giving most
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concern. the steam is coming from ponds inside the reactor used to cool spent fuel rods. if the temperature continues to rise unchecked, it could spark a nuclear chain reaction. that is why water cannon, normally used in riot control, are being used to spray the reactor. another measure considered too dangerous to attempt just 24 hours ago. reflecting growing international concern, america has deployed unmanned drone aircraft to monitor the unfurling crisis at the fukushima plant. while traveling the size of its recommended exclusion zone around the stricken complex. japan's chief cabinet secretary has peers before the cameras, denying any suggestion his government is hiding the true extent of the crisis. experts around the world are increasingly concerned. the latest development is not a promising one. it was hoped today's helicopter operation would reduce radiation levels.
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latest measurements show the level has actually risen. helicopter crews will try again tomorrow. paul davis, itv news. >> thanks to itn's paul davis for that report. president obama will deliver remarks about japan in just a few minutes and we'll bring them live to you. a short time ago, the president signed a condolence book in which he wrote, my heart goes out to the people of japan during this enormalous tragedy. please know that america will always stand by one of its greatest allies during this time of need. nbc's mike viqueira live at the white house. this visit to the japanese embassy was not on his schedule. is this now a mark of how serious the situation has become? >> reporter: well, i think it's a mark of how seriously the united states government understands the sensitivities of the japanese people. every time you hear the president talk about this issue, and he's been on the phone with the japanese prime minister kan twice now since this crisis has erupted in its nuclear aspect, but you hear u.s. government
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officials go out of their way to praise the japanese people to offer their support in solidarity. the japanese people are sensitive to towards the perception of their country by people on this side of the pacific and professional diplomats, from the president on down, are cognizant of that. we expect to see the president in the rose garden on the south side of the white house as i stand on the north lawn in 25 minutes, plenty on the president's plate. it's not only japan. there's an imminent vote on a possible no-fly zone or perhaps further military action when it comes to libya. but more on that later. the president, we can expect, will outline u.s. efforts to assist the japanese government, both in search and rescue, in vertical airlift, bringing in supplies, meals ready to eat, water, blankets, some 17,000 american sailors and marines off the coast of japan involved in that effort as well as aerial surveillance trying to figure out where people are. and not incidentally, above that troubled nuclear power plant at
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fukushima daiichi. the president is also expected to calm some fears, at least we can expect him to as radiation cloud miniscule and minimal though it is, and every expert down the line says, look, americans, everybody on earth is subject to radiation. there is no reason for alarm. but expect the president to say that. there's also this controversy that you touched on, martin, the united states government yesterday saying, american citizens should stay within 50 miles, outside a 50 mile per rim of it the troubled nuclear plant as the japanese government has insisted if you're inside 20 miles, stay inside. if you're inside 12 miles, evacuate. so a wide divergence there, literally. today the deputy secretary of energy telling everybody, judging from everything they've heard, that was the prudent thing for the american government to do, martin. >> mike viqueira at the white house. we'll be back later with you in the broadcast. for now, thanks so much. around the clock, 180
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workers at fukushima plant are being rotated in shifts of 50. desperately hoping to diminish the risk of radiation leaks that have spread fear across much of that country. but their brave efforts may be in vain. what happens if you are exposed to radiation? to offer more clarity on the potential impact of a government meltdown, joined by greg mellow. good afternoon, greg. >> good afternoon, marten. is it fair to assume that those working within the plant to try to stop these leaks are literally sacrificing their own lives for the sake of others? >> it's fair to assume that might be an outcome. the doses are fairly high. you can get there in that plan apparently, lifetime recommended dose for a radiation worker in about an hour. so the dangers are very real and very great. and people are really brave in that plan.
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really stand-up people doing what has to be done. >> remarkable people. we've seen seawater being dumped on the plant. but wouldn't it make sense simply to hit the plant with concrete and sand, or are the japanese reluctant to do that because they may want to use this plant again in the future? >> well, i think that's now in the rear view mirror. the plant is not usable in the future. it's contaminated. it's broken. and i think that's my opinion at this point. the -- i think that -- it has to be cooled, it's not a matter of just burying it. it's not the same as chernobyl. that, i'm not sure exactly what the subsequent steps that might be taken are, but water will cool that zirconium and keep it from bursting into flame, if they can get the water there. >> how does this incident differ, i don't mean in size, in
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cooling it, how does it difficulter from chernobyl? >> chernobyl was an operating reactor that suffered a criticality explosion where the reactor itself blew up. it had no containment. here we have a very large quantity of spent nuclear fuel, more than chernobyl. it's -- a lot of it is outside, most of it is outside reactors. it can burn if it becomes exposes to the air. if it's hot enough, fresh enough from the reactor. the amount of radio nuke collides are tremendous and it has to be kept from burning, from starting a self-propagating cladding fire that could spread millions of radio cesium and other isotopes it could go quite far. it would be quite bad. >> an understandable level of fear about this. but if this situation stays as it is, what do you think the
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likely effect will be on human life and the environment surrounding that plant? >> well it will certainly never be the same. it will, i think -- human beings are very resilient. how this is understood, i think the workers that are making these brave efforts, in effect, their story will be part of their story. and the outcome of their efforts will determine whether the area is habitable. it may not be habitable for decades if there is a serious fire. it will be uninhabitable. >> remarkable level of sacrifice by those workers. greg mello, thank you for joining us. when we come back, much more on the growing rifts betwe betw japanese and u.s. officials. does tokyo have something to hide? hat's a coffee and two pills. the afternoon tour begins with more pain and more pills.
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we're awaiting the president to speak at around 3:30. the nuclear crisis in japan has millions of americans checking to see where they're closest reactor is. there are also questions whether we should relicense nuclear plants that have outlived their intended life expect pansy. with 104 reactors in the u.s., and many near the coastline, is it time to close some down and perhaps rebuild others? a spokesman for the nuclear energy institute. also a lobbyist for the nuclear industry. good afternoon, sir. >> good afternoon, mart. before we begin, on behalf of nei and our members, our thoughts with the people of japan, our friends and colleagues there, and in particular, the folks on the ground in fukushima who are for their heroic efforts to cope with this. >> i'm sure that those
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sentiments are appreciated. how many of those 104 reactors now operating in the united states are actually beyond their intended life expect pansy? >> none. 40-year initial license was based on an amortization schedule. it had nothing to do wit the design life of those plants. >> so the intention was, what? these things would operate for 100 years? >> no, sir. to relicense the plants the plants prepare a license renewal application that's reviewed by the nuclear regulatory commission. its focus is on aging management of structure systems and components, things that can degrade, to make sure that efforts are in place to manage that degradation and make sure components function as intended. >> aren't there similarities between reactors that function in this country and the one in such a terrible state at fukushima? >> yes, there are similarities, but i want to stress that when these plants were licensed and
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fukushima units were in early 1970s time frame, and many here as well, the design doesn't sit pat. there are many upgrades and improvements, both required by the nuclear regulatory commission and as implemented by the plant owners, to modify the design, to strengthen it it, to improve its safety and reliability, and so it doesn't resemble the same design that went in in 1970. >> a number of people that i've spoken to over the last few days have made the point these rrnls are performing in excess of 100% capacity. is that dangerous? >> no, sir, the capacity factor is a measure of how much power can put out if it was working all the time. the average capacity factor for our industry, on average, since about 2000, is around 90%. the best reactors, even with a fueling outage, we calculate this on a three-year rolling
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basis is about 96%. there are strict technical specifications in place that don't allow reactors to operate beyond their licensed limb it. >> we're going to put up a map which shows the location of the indian point nuclear plant, less than 50 miles from times square and the so million people living here in new york city, not to mention the millions more in the surrounding areas. it's been ranked by the nrc as the u.s. plant with the highest risk of core damage in the event of an earthquake. the owner of the plan, energy corporation, has applied for a 20-year extension. do you think that makes sense, given what's happened? >> yeah, i think the ranking you're referring to is it has a lot of uncertainty associated with it. 1 in 10,000 year risk is not a risk of raid logic release to the public but an approximation of potential for damaging some of the fuel. i would note that three mile island damaged about 50% of its fuel without any significant
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radiological release. and all of our plants are designed from a seismic perspective to meet the most severe conditions that it's expected to see, based on historical review, the geology of the area, and we feel that the requirements in place with respect to seismic are very, very strong. >> so you're superconfident about the united states-based plants but what about the japanese? do you trust what's being said and what's being done over there with regard to their own reactor? >> martin, i'm not going to pretend to understand what it's like on the ground in japan, given what they've been hit with in the last week. first, a richter scale nine earthquake and then that horrendous tsunami and all of the aftershocks associated with the event. so they're doing the best they can. this is not the time to criticize the japanese. they have a very dire situation there. they're coping with. again, they're heroic efforts.
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there will be time to get lessons learned and apply them to our plants to make them safer and more reliable. >> let's hope there's lessons to be learned. thank you for joining us. coming up -- president obama set to address the nation on the nuclear disaster. we'll take you to the white house for life coverage. and -- the latest on the desperate search for four americans missing on the front lines of libya's civil war. [ female announcer ] water was meant to be perfect. crisp, clear, untouched. that's why there's brita, to make the water we drink, taste a little more, perfect. reduce lead and other impurities with the advanced filtration system of brita. reduce lead and other impurities ♪ i was diagnosed with copd. i could not take a deep breath i noticed i was having trouble. climbing the stairs, working in the garden, painting. my doctor suggested spiriva right then. announcer: spiriva is the only once-daily inhaled maintenance treatment for copd, which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
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>> reporter: well, nbc news sources inside benghazi, that still rebel-held strong hold, are confirming that there have been air strikes, warplanes have bombed what looks like the area around benghazi close to the airport. but otherwise, most of the pro-gadhafi forces are primarily involved in amassing on the border of the outskirts of ajdabiya, that is such a key town, 100 miles south of benghazi. some reports here in tripoli suggesting that that town has already fallen. our information that is that's not the case, that the rebels are still inside the town and the loyalist forces, loyal to gadhafi, are on the outskirts, they are amassing so many troops, so much materiel and supplies including ammo it looks like they're not only prepared to go through and take ajdabiya, but go all the way to benghazi and then beyond benghazi, to the
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egyptian border, where they could encircle and besiege the capital or at least the rebel capital, and hold it, starve it out, perhaps, and not have to rode with a bloodbath. already, some international aid agencies and some news organizations, as well, have left benghazi, fearing a major battle. yesterday, saif al islam gadhafi, one of gadhafi's sons and the de facto spokesman for the regime, perhaps flippantly said military operations in benghazi would be over in two days. what is more likely is that this could last a long time, especially if it turns into a guerrilla-style conflict. jim maceda, nbc news, reporting from tripoli. >> our thanks to jim maceda. the latest on the disaster in japan that has americans heading for home. and the president just moments from addressing the nation.nd of retirement questions.
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>> right nowvideo coming into the newsroom of evacuees arriving at san francisco international airport from japan. the u.s. embassy in japan has set up an information center in tokyo airport to help with evacuations. pictures just coming in. also awaiting the arrival of president obama who will deliver remarks about the unfolding crisis in japan at any moment. nbc's mike viqueira live at the white house. good afternoon again, mike. >> reporter: good afternoon again, martin. >> does the white house stand by the remarks made by the chairman of the nrc, regarding the threat level at the fukushima plant? ja that's a very interesting question, martin, because both that individual, mr. jaczko, and the deputy director or deputy secretary of the department of energy came before reporters in the white house briefing room today, and they say, it looks
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like a prudent move to recommend that american citizens be evacuated outside a 50-mile radius from the troubled reactor. and they base that judgment in part on some aerial photographs taken at the troubled reactor with the spent fuel rods that apparently the biggest problem that japanese authorities are facing right now. they believe it was justified. they believe the testimony that was given yesterday on capitol hill was justified. they're careful not to allow the -- this conflict if you will, or this contradiction between the recommendation that the japanese government is giving its own citizens -- remember a 20-mile radius, suggesting people stay inside their homes to guard themselves against exposure to radiation, inside a 12-mile radius is their recommendation for evacuation. u.s. officials from the white house on down are emphasizing that this is simply their standard procedure. it's a differing standard in
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terms of the threat and its exposure to people. but there's no doubt here that the american government thinks that they made the right move in making that suggestion, marten. you've been reporting on these telephone conversations that have taken place between our respective presidents. what can you tell us about whether the japanese and president obama are on the same page, in terms of the level of threat? >> reporter: you no, another interesting question, and the white house press secretary, jay carnie, held forth before reporters as well after the two officials, he was asked directly whether the united states and the president has full faith in the japanese government's ability to deal with this. listen to this nuanced answer that jay carney gave. he said it is a fluid situation, i think that's obvious. the president has great faith in the idea that they are fully aware of the crisis they are dealing with. so he left some ambiguity there, unclear why, but an interesting response to a direct question
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about the president's faith in the japanese authorities' ability to deal with this. i think you're going to see the president, once again, when they comes into the rose garden, express his solidarity and support for not only the japanese people but the japanese government. this is something happening in japan. something that the united states has little control over, having said that, there are thousands of american service men and women there assisting in humanitarian efforts. there are also some two dozen nuclear experts from both the department of defense and the nuclear regulatory commission here in the united states. they're assisting japanese government and the japanese utility tepco, dealing with this issue. >> that quote just now, mike, that didn't sound very clear to me. that didn't sound as though the president is confident. i mean, jay carney's used phyllis tus language, don't you think? >> reporter: it wasn't a direct answer. it wasn't a direct endorsement of the japanese people. there could be other reasons for
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that. it could be their way of downplaying conflict, it could be their way of downplaying discrepancies in the evaluation of those spent rods, and that one particular unit that is posing the greatest danger. it could be the fact that they simply don't think that the japanese -- and that may be manifested in the varying recommendations -- are dealing with this in the best way possible. certainly no shortage of outside experts twhait opini s with tha. any discrepancy between the u.s. and japanese governments, at least on the u.s. side, is to downplay that, say that they are working in unity -- in unison, trying to provide all of the support that the japanese need here in this crisis, martin. >> mike, going back over the last few days, do you think that the criticism of the president in relation to this has been fair? because some people have said they hasn't been very clear, he hasn't been very bold. on the other hand, i'm assuming
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he's rely ant on the scientific expertise he's being given. >> reporter: he certainly is. one thing the press secretary and officials have reminded us, this is something happening in japanese territory, the large effort of japanese main islands. the president has come under criticism, you're probably aware, he appeared on e schspn, unveiling his brackets for the basketball tournament that began today, pausing at the top of that, as he stood before the big white board that held his selections and expressing condolences with the japanese public. people felt that was inappropriate. he's taken criticism for being indecisive, fairly or unfairly, when the question comes to libya and the imposition of a no-fly zone there. the united states apparently now taking the position today and yesterday in the security council, as this being debated how to react to gadhafi's aggression against the rebels in libya. it's taken the position no-fly zone may not go far enough there
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may be military action taken against gadhafi forces on the ground there. we expect a vote in the security council later today. there has been that criticism. add to it the usual washington background noise come interesting capitol hill about criticism on the budget and how the president should take a larger role. that's coming not only from republicans but from democrats as well. and the fact that the -- i'm told the president is coming out now into the rose garden from the oval office. >> the american people have been both heartbreaken and deeply concerned about the developments in japan. we've seen an earthquake and tsunami render unimaginable toll of death and destruction on one of our closest friends and allies in the world. we've seen this powerful, natural disaster cause even more catastrophe through it's impact on nuclear reactors that bring peaceful energy to the people of japan. today, i wanted to update the american people on what we know about the situation in japan, what we're doing to support american citizens, and the
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safety of our own nuclear energy, and how we are helping japanese people contain the damage, recover, and rebuild. first, we are bringing all available resources to bear to closely monitor the situation and to protect american citizens who may be in harm's way. even as japanese responders continue to do heroic work, we know that the damage to the nuclear reactors in fukushima daiichi plant poses a substantial risk to people who are nearby. that is why yesterday we called for an evacuation of american citizens who are within 50 miles of the plant. this decision was based upon a careful scientific evaluation. and the guidelines that we would use to keep our citizens safe here in the united states or anywhere in the world. beyond this 50-mile radius, the risks do not currently call for an evacuation. but we do have a responsibility
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to take prudent and precautionary measures to educate those americans who may be endangered exposure to radiation if the situation deteriorates. that's why last night i authorized the voluntary departures of family members and dependents of u.s. officials working in northeastern japan. all u.s. citizens in japan should continue to carefully monitor the situation and follow the guidance of the u.s. and japanese governments. and those who are seeking assistance should contact our embassy and consulates, which continue to be open and operational. second, i know many americans are also worried about the potential risks to the united states. so i wanted to be very clear, we do not expect harmful levels of radiation to reach the united states, whether it's the west coast, hawaii, alaska, or u.s. territories in the pacific.
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let's me repeat that. we do not expect harmful levels of radiation to reach the west coast, hawaii, alaska, or u.s. territories in the pacific. that is the judgement of our nuclear regulatory commission and many other experts. furthermore, the centers for disease control and prevention and public health experts do not recommend that people in the united states take precautionary measures beyond staying informed. and going forward, we will continue to keep the american people fully updated. because i believe that you must know what i know as president. here at home, nuclear power is also an important part of our own energy future, along with renewable sources like wind, solar, natural gas, and clean coal. our nuclear power plants have undergone exhaustive studying and have been declared safe for any number of extreme contingencies. when we see a crisis like the one in japan, we have a
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responsibility to learn from this event and to draw from those lessons to ensure the safety and security of our people. that's why i've asked the nuclear regulatory commission to do a comprehensive review of the safety of our domestic nuclear plants in light of the natural disaster that unfolded in japan. finally, we are working aggressively to support our japanese ally at this time of extraordinary challenge. search and rescue teams are on the ground in japan to help the recovery effort. a disaster assistance and response team is working to confront the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami. the u.s. military, which has helped to ensure the security of japan for decades, is working around the clock. to date, we've flown hundreds of missions to support the recovery efforts and distributed thousands of pounds of food and water to the japanese people. we've also deployed some of our leading experts to help contain the damage at japan's nuclear
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reactors. we're sharing with them expertise, equipment and technology so that the courageous responders on the scene have the benefit of american teamwork and support. and the american people have also opened up their hearts. many have given generously to support the ongoing relief efforts. the red cross is providing assistance to help meet the immediate needs of those displaced. i would encourage anybody who wants to go a hand to go to to find out how to be helpful. as i told prime minister kan last night, and reaffirmed at the japanese embassy here in washington today the japanese people are not alone in this time of great trial and sorrow. across the pacific, they will find a hand of support extended from the united states as they get back on their feet. after all, we have an alliance that was forged more than a half
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century ago and strengthened by shared interests and democratic values. our people share ties of family, ties of culture, and ties of commerce. our troops have served to protect japan's shores and our citizens have found opportunity and friendship in japan's cities and towns. above all, i am confident that japan will recover and rebuild, because the strength and sprirts of the ja fleez peoplpanese peo. they've shared scarce resources of food and water. they provided free medical care and looked out for their most vulnerable citizens. it's a japanese thing. when hard times hit, we have to help each other. in these hard times, there remains nevertheless hope for the future. in one small town that had been flattened by the tsunami,
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emergency workers rescued a 4-month-old baby who had been swept out of her parents' arms and stranded for days among the debris. no one can say for certain how she survived the water and the wreckage around her. there is a mystery in the course of human events. but in the midst of economic recovery and global upheaval, disasters like this remind us of the common humanity that we share. we see it in the responders risking their lives at fukushima, we show it through the help that is poured into japan from 70 countries and we hear it in the cries of a child, miraculously pulled from the rubble. in the coming days we will continue to do everything we can to ensure the safety of american citizens and the security of our sources of energy. and we will stand with the people of japan as they contain this crisis, recover from this hardship, and rebuild their great nation. thanks very much.
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>> president there speaking, saying the west coast has nothing to fear and the u.s. military is working around the clock to help the japanese people. let's bring back in nbc's mike viqueira. mike, i have to say, listening to that, it sounded to me the president was trying to reassure american people and quench down any possibility of a panic or any hysteria. he said, i want to make it clear there will not be harmful levels of radiation on the west coast. i want to repeat that. >> reporter: clearly, that was one of -- probably job one in coming out today in the rose garden. number one, to outline the united states' efforts in assisting japan, militarily and on the humanitarian side. the expertise that they are lending in trying to contain this nuclear crisis at the fukushima daiichi plant there. number three, to tell the american people that there's, listen, there is no reason to panic. you talked about the sporadic
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reports of exposure to radiation. experts saying look, americans, people are exposed to radiation all the time. by the time it reaches hawaii, alaska or the west coast it will be minimal. there is no danger whatsoever. he spent, you know, i guess about 25 or a quarter of his time at the end there martin doing what we expected him to do, speaking directly to the ja fle japanese people. undergoing an incredibly difficult time with all of the ambiguity in the short term with a real threat to their health and how this is being handled by their government. i've talked to former colleagues in japan today. a great deal of frustration on the part of citizenry and the peep of japan about the mixed signals they've been getting from japan, not to mention the mixed signal sent by the varying instructions how far to evacuate about the american government and the japanese government as a whole. the president leaving for a
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south american trip late tomorrow. hitting the points that we talked about here in the rose garden, trying to allay american fears and reassuring the japanese people, one of our closest allies as the president put it since the close of world war ii, the united states stands behind them to recover and get past this immediate crisis. nbc correspondent miguel am ma ger is in los angeles following new developments. miguel? >> reporter: martin, good afternoon. some time friday, forecasters predict most likely friday evening, small, and we want to emphasize small, low-level radioactive isotopes will likely reach california. experts say those levels are so low they certainly fall within safe limits. a large network of radio monitors is keeping close tabs on all of this. the environmental protection agency or the epa says they've got 100 radiation monitors that work 24 hours a day and are spread all across the country,
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many of them here on the west coast. additional monitors sent to hawaii, alaska, guam, as a precaution, and more could also be deployed. experts say though, it's important to keep in mind that japan is more than 5,000 miles away. so by the time any isotopes have travelled that distance, they will likely be diluted over the travel. again, martin, they are saying there is no reason to be concerned anywhere on the pacific northwest. >> and the president just delivered exactly the same message. thanks again. we'll be right back. [ male announcer ] this is lara.
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welcome back. mortgage with marten in a moment. the senate passed the government spending bill to fund the government until april 8th. the current extension expires tomorrow. and in other news, john ber trands aristide is leaving for haiti if a few hours. this breaks his seven years in
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exile accompanied by a team including his attorney and the actor, danny glover. he's not looking to get back into politics in haiti. he says he only wants to lead his foundation's efforts to improve education after last b voice for haiti's poor and a popular revolt that forced an end to the family's 29-year dictatorship. he was ousted from power in 2004. and there is some positive signs on the job front. a new report shows fewer people applied for unemployment benefits last week, the third decline in the past four weeks and the lowest level since july 2008. experts predict this year to bring even more job growth. let's get it back over to martin. martin, i just wanted to say, i love your tie today, sir. happy st. patrick's day. >> thank you very much, indeed, veronica. we'll be right back when we clear the air.
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it's time now to "clear the
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air." and one of the observations that's been made about the japanese people has been the way they appear to have heeded their prime minister's call for calm in the midst of this horrendous nuclear crisis. commentators have praised the civil and moderate way the japanese have handled themselves, even as the fukushima plant has caught fire, exploded, and sent toxic fumes into the atmosphere. and contrasts have been drawn with the way americans might have responded. the president speaking just a few minutes ago, told us that he does not expect any kind of contamination here in the united states and said there was no need to take any kind of precautionary measures. he's clearly concerned that people's anxieties should be dampened down at this time. social scientists now tell us that the outbreak of panic in any society is directly related to the amount of trust that people have in their government. that finding brings this matter painfully close to home, because most public polling finds that
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americans have less respect for their political leaders than they have for secondhand car salesmen, or dare i say it, even journalists like myself. it's, therefore, hardly surprising that in some parts of the country, decontamination kits have sold out, even though the cloud over fukushima will never float over places like athens, georgia, or louisiana. but if a nuclear power plant in this country were to spill radioactive material, i wonder if anybody would believe the reassurances of politicians. maybe that's one of the lessons that we should learn from this experience, because we can't always plan for accidents, but maybe both houses of congress should start thinking about how they can rebuild the trust of the american people, because as we know, accidents can and they really do happen. thanks for watching. i'd like to wish everybody a very happy st. patrick's day. i'm wearing a green tie in their honor.
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born in the usa. well, good afternoon to you. my name is dylan ratigan. nice to be seeing you. happy st. patrick's day today. what is really happening in japan? their government, ours, disagreeing about the size and scope of the nuclear disaster. meanwhile, the massive human tragedy left by the quake and the resulting tsunami, the millions displaced without water, without food, all but ignored. president obama talking about the crisis just moments ago. plus, would a no-fly zone be too little, too late in libya? the u.n. just hours away from a vote on military action as gadhafi threatens to retake the last big rebel stronghold. and on this st. patrick's day, the answer to that age-old question, why do ha